July 25, 2014

4:02 PM | "It's a miracle"
Management lessons from Bull Durham. Have a great weekend! 
4:01 PM | Why STEM is TE: post-secondary education requirements edition
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a fascinating microcosm of the STEM problem: Casale said during the recession, the education level expected by Minnesota employers rose and as the state bounced back, degree requirements fell. In June, the state had the 10th-lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Still, there are remaining factors that determine a higher degree’s level of success — especially its area of focus. In the fourth quarter of last year, 80 percent of responding […]
1:53 PM | Here we go again: biologicals are chemicals, too
I should probably quit beating this drum, but I cannot resist this one. From the Washington Post's Health Reform Watch, Jason Millman writes about the new FDA biosimilars news:The Food and Drug and Administration for the first time has accepted an application for a copycat version of what's known as a biologic, which is a complex drug made from proteins of living organisms. These biologics are cutting-edge therapies that can be more effective than regular drugs made from chemicals — and, […]
1:49 PM | A week of links
Links this week: Detecting irrational exuberance in the brain – neuroeconomists confirm Warren Buffett’s wisdom (original article here). Spouses are more genetically similar than people chosen at random, but they are far more similar in education (ungated pdf). A well established fact, but further evidence that impatient adolescents do worse later in life. Homo Oeconomicus Versus […]
10:59 AM | Nerding out: RSA on an iPython Notebook
Yesterday was a day filled with secrets and codes. In the morning, at The Platform, we had guest speaker Columbia history professor Matthew Connelly, who came and talked to us about his work with declassified documents. Two big and slightly depressing take-aways for me were the following: As records have become digitized, it has gotten […]

July 24, 2014

8:06 PM | Anyone ever had grad student/postdoc pay stop because of the university changing its policies?
I'm hearing about grad students at a research university having their pay periods change, and therefore basically missing a paycheck. There is blame on the Affordable Care Act, which is a little odd.What happens in these sort of situations? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? What is the most effective way for a group of graduate students or postdocs to mount a response? 
7:58 PM | Job posting: FDA postdoc in surface analytical chemistry, Winchester, MA
From the inbox:I am looking for post-doctoral fellow to work with me on a project developing Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) methods.  Raman experience is not required, analytical chemistry skills are needed.  I can provide more information to interested individuals.  Please follow up if I can provide more information or if you know someone looking for a position.  The monthly stipend is $6,239 (no benefits/insurance is provided).  The position is for one […]
7:55 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 7/24/14 edition
A few of the recent positions posted on C&EN Jobs:我的工作去了哪里?: Abbvie is looking for medicinal chemists... in Shanghai:We currently have openings for medicinal chemists at our new, state-of-the-art facility in Shanghai, China.  ...Must have fluency in both Mandarin and English, and be willing to relocate to China.Ahhhhh: It's time for CJ to grind this ax again -- IRIX is looking for a QC senior scientist:Analyst will utilize […]
1:25 PM | Our visual system predicts the future
I am reading John Coates’s thus far excellent The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: How Risk Taking Transforms Us, Body and Mind. There are many highlights and interesting pieces, the below being one of them. First, we do not see in real-time: When light hits out retina, the photons must be translated into a chemical […]

July 23, 2014

3:10 PM | Summer senryu
Busy today, but I thought I would write a few senryu:Summer undergradCan't work the rotovap yetHope they will learn soon Project reports suckI hate doing them so muchMaybe beer will helpManagement cites litPretty sure it doesn't meanWhat you think it doesAnother meetingBlah blah blah blah blah blah blahPlease let's have one more
11:29 AM | How to think like a microeconomist
Yesterday we were pleased to have Suresh Naidu guest lecture in The Platform. He came in and explained, very efficiently because he was leaving at 11am for a flight at noon at LGA (which he made!!) how to think like an economist. Or at least an applied microeconomist. Here are his notes: Applied microeconomics is basically […]

July 22, 2014

1:11 PM | Crime and punishment
When I was prepping for my Slate Money podcast last week I read this column by Matt Levine at Bloomberg on the Citigroup settlement. In it he raises the important question of how the fine amount of $7 billion was determined. Here’s the key part:  Citi’s and the Justice Department’s approaches both leave something to […]

July 21, 2014

7:17 PM | Well, since you asked
I got randomly selected for an online survey about the ACS. I found this one to be a good question. 
3:27 PM | What is a project house?
In an article by Alex Scott about Clariant and its R&D structure, an interesting paragraph (emphasis mine):The company now has eight R&D centers and 50 technical application labs worldwide. “We now have a very good infrastructure for trying to develop innovations,” Kottmann said. Clariant is also testing models for accelerating innovation. One such model, in trials for the past couple of years, is the so-called project house, which draws together chemists and commercial […]
3:22 PM | C&EN tackles chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Lauren Wolf looks at scientists trying to track the accumulation of tau (and other signs of CTE) in vivo: ...One question they’d like to answer is how much brain injury a person can handle before CTE sets in. With support from the Nevada Athletic Commission and local fight promoters, the group is gathering data by periodically testing its fighters and comparing them with a control group of age- and education-matched people who have never had head trauma. When the test subjects visit […]
3:06 PM | This week's C&EN
From this week's issue: Wonderful quotes on committees: This letter on open workspaces takes a funny turn towards the end:...Teamwork and collaboration are important, but so is individual thought. The late science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein defined a committee as “a creature with three or more legs and no brain.” The National Aeronautics & Space Administration put it similarly: “None of us is as dumb as all of us.” James M. CastroHelena, Mont.Um, what's […]
1:49 PM | Everyone has a crush on me
So I have been getting some feedback lately on how I always assume everyone has a crush  on me. People know this is my typical assumption because I say things like, “oh yeah that guy totally has a crush on me.” And when I say “feedback,” what I mean is people joyfully accusing me of […]

July 20, 2014

2:04 PM | Taking a short break--no post his week
I'm taking a short break. I expect to post again on Sunday, July 27.

July 18, 2014

3:37 PM | Ouch
From @metabolome. The truth, it hurts.
3:34 PM | CEO apparently cannot afford to train his workers
Via my new weekly dose of pain (a Google news alert for the term "skills gap"), a CEO has a good one (emphasis mine): ...Yet in manufacturing alone, a half-million jobs are going unfilled because firms have been unable to find qualified workers. The feds can't address our nation's shortage of skilled labor on their own. Private firms — especially those in manufacturing — must also invest in training. Indeed, without workers fluent in the high technology that runs today's […]
1:15 PM | The platonic solids
I managed to record this week’s Slate Money podcast early so I could drive up to HCSSiM for July 17th, and the Yellow Pig Day celebration. I missed the 17 talk but made it in time for yellow pig carols and cake. This morning my buddy Aaron decided to let me talk to the kids […]
3:15 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Why idiots succeed. Rory Sutherland on social norms. Economics incentives versus nudge (pdf). Don’t forget that basic economic mechanisms can work. We’re related to our friends. Are there really trillion dollar bills on the sidewalk? A bash of the Myers-Briggs test. Personally, I’m a fan of the big five plus g. On g, […]

July 17, 2014

3:32 PM | "Home" or something like it
Sports fan (and chemist) Denny has a really insightful (and amusing) set of comments about the return of LeBron James to Cleveland: ...Which brings us to Ohio: I have not lived in Ohio since 2006. I do not plan to live in Ohio any time in the near or distant future, nor do I particularly want to raise my child there. But Ohio is still important to me because I am from there, and I very much want for Ohio to thrive. I think that’s where a lot of my initial excitement about […]
2:34 PM | Using the telephone for job-searching
I really like this guide to the use of the telephone for job searching over at Science Careers, if only for this advice: If you’re like most people, you’ve got at least two phones, a home phone and a cell phone. You may have your own business phone, too, and for reasons I haven’t yet plumbed, some people seem to have more than one cell phone. Some people use a cell phone as their sole telephony instrument. That’s OK, but it’s not ideal. Business calls are […]
2:31 PM | Job posting: senior medicinal chemist, San Francisco, CA
From the inbox, a position at Achaogen:This position will be responsible for the design and synthesis of small-molecule drug candidates. The Sr. Scientist will analyze data from multiple assays to design compounds that meet project goals. This person in this role will be expected to initiate projects and/or function as a chemistry team leader. He or she must be adaptable to a fast-paced and dynamic environment, and will be willing to take on responsibilities outside of his/her main area of […]
2:24 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 7/17/14
Good morning! A few recent positions posted on C&EN Jobs:San Francisco, CA: Nanosys is a newer company that's looking for an experienced M.S./Ph.D. organometallic chemist:Nanosys is seeking a versatile synthetic chemist with experience in organometallics to develop new compositions for the Nanosys optical materials effort. Based on our proprietary quantum dot technology we are developing new nano-crystals and composites for integration into optical devices in partnerships with leading […]
1:01 PM | The wisdom of crowds of people who don’t believe in the wisdom of crowds
MIT Technology reports new research on the “wisdom of the confident”: It turns out that if a crowd offers a wide range of independent estimates, then it is more likely to be wise. But if members of the crowd are influenced in the same way, for example by each other or by some external factor, […]
10:53 AM | The future of work
People who celebrate the monthly jobs report getting better nowadays often forget to mention a few facts: the new jobs are often temporary or part-time, with low wages the old lost jobs, which we lose each month, were often full-time with higher wages I could go on, and I have, and mention the usual complaints about the definition […]

July 16, 2014

9:15 PM | CSB: No preventative maintenance at Freedom Industries
In March, I said this about the leaking tanks that caused the huge MCHM mess outside Charleston, WV:Freedom Industries is likely responsible for the apparent poor state of their tanks -- I wonder if those tanks have ever been pressure checked or what the preventative maintenance logs look like. And now, thanks to the Chemical Safety Board, we have some answers (emphasis mine): ...the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reported today it has thus far found no record of a formal, […]
3:51 PM | Too funny, too true
I'm enjoying the new chemistry blog C&EN Onion -- they're a lot funnier than I am these days. I hope they keep it up:Congress: NIH Funding To Be Distributed Via Cage Fighting(Washington, D.C.) In a rare showing of strong bi-partisan support, landmark bill S. 2651 entitled the "Investigational Combatant Funding Reappropriation Act" has passed through the United States Senate and been signed into law by President Obama.  "My fellow Americans, today marks an important milestone in our […]
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